Letter Urging Congress to Introduce Video Competition

Coalition Letter to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist

The Honorable Bill Frist Majority Leader United States Senate Washington, DC 20510

November 14, 2005

Dear Majority Leader Frist:

Earlier this year, Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) introduced the Broadband Investment and Consumer Choice Act to create a national video franchise, freeing providers from a labyrinth of over 30,000 franchising jurisdictions. The undersigned organizations strongly support a reform of the current franchise system such as that found in Senator Ensign’s legislation, and urge Congress to update the law to introduce competition into the video market.

To put the current system in perspective, at a rate of one new franchise per day, it would take a new competitor more than eighty years to reach every municipality in America. Without reforming this system, consumers are not likely to see the benefits of competition in video services any time soon, as new competitors have reached agreements with just six local franchising authorities so far this year.

Legislation is needed to create a national video franchise, thereby freeing video competitors of all stripes from the current system and removing the barriers to a truly free market. The resulting competition will provide video consumers with more choices at lower prices, all while offering them the cutting edge in video services technology. Freeing the video market from the current outdated and anti-competitive system will also result in billions in new investments as entrants seek to reach new customers.

We agree with Senator Ensign’s approach because it confirms the principle that competitive market forces are far better guarantors of consumer benefits than government regulations. For this same reason, we hope franchise reform legislation will not include language that would lead to “net-neutrality” regulations. Consumers with choices in the marketplace would be a far better regulator of real net-neutrality than the government.

Nearly a decade has passed since Congress addressed significant telecommunications reform, and in that time technology has grown by leaps and bounds. Therefore, it is essential that Congress act to provide a free market, deregulatory and competitive market in which new technologies will flourish. Therefore, we strongly support franchise reform, and view the Broadband Investment and Consumer Choice Act as a positive step toward this important goal.